Love: Refreshing Love27 02 13 00:30 by tamr
I thoroughly enjoy new things, even if it isn't entirely pleasant. I like new ideas, new foods, new colors, different clothes (helps being a seamstress here, I'll say that), different books, different places. It feels refreshing to me. I get a mental cabin-fever pretty quickly, so if I don't have something new going on somewhere, I get cranky. And moody. I understand this aspect of me, and I do my best to plan ahead to combat boredom. It's similar to football fans going to a rugby game: sure, it's a game, but it's not football. Dinner this week: not the same things we had last week. Sure, it's a meal, but it's not different. Books I'm reading? Projects I'm working on? Topics I'm thinking about? These all have to change during the week/month. Sure, I could do the same thing every day/every week, but where is the excitement in that?
Case in point: I need a new vegetable to eat, so I got a Costco bag of brussel sprouts. I can't say these are my favorite vegetable...at all...and the whole "steam until withered and drown in butter" theory doesn't work for me either. But I need to conquer this food! So today I tossed the whole bunch of them in olive oil, kosher salt, ground black pepper, basil, parsley, garlic powder and parmesan cheese and baked it at 400F for 40 minutes. I'm not kidding, it was actually really good! I don't know if I can get anyone else in the house to eat them; but between you and me, they were very very tasty.
And different! Total score.
In regards to the topic of refreshing love, I would say that it is very difficult to find refreshing love in environments or relationships that aren't fresh, innovative, creative, heartfelt, meaningful or deliberate. Love grows and changes, and adapts over time. The love Ben and I have now is a very different flavor than what it was 19 years ago. You can't eat the same can of green beans for 19 years...spice it up, be creative, and serve brussel sprouts!
Here is a story I was reading the other day that was interesting:
"Todd Putman, who worked at Coca-Cola from 1997 to 2001, said the goal ( for the company ) became much larger than merely beating the rival brands; Coca-Cola strove to outsell every other thing people drank, including milk and water. The marketing division’s efforts boiled down to one question, Putman said: “How can we drive more ounces into more bodies more often?”"
How about we say that Coke and Putnam wanted to give love to the world. They had a love product, and they had an audience who loved their product. So it was Putnam's job to find different, better, more effective ways of selling this love to people.
In his capacity, Dunn was making frequent trips to Brazil, where the company had recently begun a push to increase consumption of Coke among the many Brazilians living in favelas. The company’s strategy was to repackage Coke into smaller, more affordable 6.7-ounce bottles, just 20 cents each. Coke was not alone in seeing Brazil as a potential boon; Nestlé began deploying battalions of women to travel poor neighborhoods, hawking American-style processed foods door to door. But Coke was Dunn’s concern, and on one trip, as he walked through one of the impoverished areas, he had an epiphany. “A voice in my head says, ‘These people need a lot of things, but they don’t need a Coke.’ I almost threw up.”
All of a sudden, you realize that the love you've been selling is expensive, consumerist, financially debilitating and furthermore, it is not healthy for this audience...and it's your job to sell more. What do you do?
You quit. You just walk right out of that company and you realize that love can be refreshing. Love can lift people up. Love can compel people to be happier, live more deliberately, refreshing love can be healthy and add more years to your life. But how?
Refreshing love has got to be creative:
"They ( a huge company ) recently hired Dunn to run one of their newest acquisitions — a food producer in the San Joaquin Valley. As they sat in the hotel’s meeting room, the men listened to Dunn’s marketing pitch. He talked about giving the product a personality that was bold and irreverent, conveying the idea that this was the ultimate snack food. He went into detail on how he would target a special segment of the 146 million Americans who are regular snackers — mothers, children, young professionals — people, he said, who “keep their snacking ritual fresh by trying a new food product when it catches their attention.”...
The snack that Dunn was proposing to sell: carrots. Plain, fresh carrots. No added sugar. No creamy sauce or dips. No salt. Just baby carrots, washed, bagged, then sold into the deadly dull produce aisle.
“We act like a snack, not a vegetable,” he told the investors. “We exploit the rules of junk food to fuel the baby-carrot conversation. We are pro-junk-food behavior but anti-junk-food establishment.”
He is still in the business of love, and he has learned how to sell love for many years. But his love is creative, it is healthy, it is a deliberate idea and it lifts people up. It is creative, refreshing love.
So how do you find refreshing love in your life? This is really harder than it sounds, especially if you're already in a rut. Tony Robbins has a great 6 point idea that explains the different things people need to be happy and fulfilled in life:
Certainty: Some people need that Certainty that they can avoid pain and have comfort or pleasure. How do people get certainty? Example 1: Work Really Hard to Master Something So There is No Uncertainty That YOU Are the Best! Example 2: Lower Your Expectations. If you’re certain that it won’t work anyway you satisfy this need. My Side: I am certain that I have a marriage and a home, and our lifestyle is absolutely set. Ben works and I stay home and teach the kids. I completely rely on this Certainty to give me stability in my life.
Uncertainty: We Need Variety to Feel Alive. How do people get variety? Anything that changes your state. Different Foods, a new book, having a conversation with someone new.My Side: Uncertainty for me is weekend trips to the coast or exploring trips to the forests. Mixing things up for dinner, or starting a new television show with Ben. Painting the walls, planting new things in the garden, meeting new people
Significance: To Feel Unique, Important, and Special. EVERYONE has these needs, but what Beliefs about how to meet this need? Example 1: Serving and making a difference in the world Example 2: DominatingMy Side: Significance is extremely important to me. If I don't feel like my work, my love, my words, my time or my efforts are significant at all, I give up completely. It is important to me to have a purpose in my day/projects, and if there is no purpose, then I feel worthless. Now, this doesn't give me the leverage to be an attention seeking diva; for the most part, it is important to wisely pick your work so that it reflects the values you believe in, and to do the work as best as you can unselfishly. But I also need to know that what I am doing is for a purpose, for a reason and someone will appreciate it somehow.
Connection: Love is in our DNA. Do you meet the need for connection in Neutral ways, Negative Ways, or Empowering Ways.
My Side: Connection is pretty important to me. I am not happy just showing up and leaving, and never connecting with someone. I need to connect with the kids and with Ben every day. I absolutely don't need to be around crowds...let me correct that: I avoid crowds. But I need to connect with individuals in order to feel fulfilled.
These 4 are the Needs of the Personality… EVERYONE FINDS a Way to meet the first 4 Needs in someway but Not Everyone Meets the Last 2. The Ultimate Needs.
Growth: Everything in the world is growing or dieing. It’s a constant process ocuring in life. Reason that we grow is to satisfy the next Need…
Contribution: We GROW so we have something to give. What makes you feel alive is to know it’s MORE than just you. You are making a meaningful impact on others.
It is absolutely crucial in life to keep love refreshed.
Love: Forgiveness05 02 13 00:18 by tamr
And as they continued to ask Jesus, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is with out sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground.
Forgiveness is something that is extremely personal and grossly misunderstood, as it touches on such a range of individuals, people and injustices. Should we forgive our brother for being mean? Yes. Should we forgive our children for messing up their room? Of course. Should we forgive our husband/wife when they’re angry? Emphatically, yes.
Yet, when it comes to acts of true evil and malice, the lesson from Jesus is to still forgive. Should you forgive your wife if she strays? Yes. Should you forgive your husband if he watches porn? Yes, you should. But these are still rather easy, in the big picture. You love them, and forgiving them heals yourself as well.
What about your rapist? Should you forgive them? What about the man who murdered your daughter? Can you ever forgive that man? Should we forgive every person who has seriously wronged us in our lives?
Even farther: What about Hitler? Can the nation of Israel forgive him? What about Stalin and the Holodomor, or the Terror-Famine in the Ukraine? Should we forgive Stalin? What about the grave injustices done to slaves, or the people trafficking children, or the horrors in Congo?
Forgiveness is a serious thing, and it covers all of this. From minor person-to-person infractions, to the slaughtering of innocents. Now, not everyone is forgiven. You do have to ask for it, if you are looking for forgiveness for yourself. But it is also a very personal choice as to whether or not you give it to someone.
A few nights ago, I was on a cleaning binge and I turned the hall closet downstairs into a pantry. Now, this closet was full of picture frames, boxes, wrapping paper, odd baskets filled with old crocheting projects from great-aunts of mine, and who knows what else. We loaded that closet up when we first moved in 4 years ago, and we’ve been using the front few feet of open space to store the vacuum.
But I kept looking at the amount of room in there, and I just knew we could use the space better. So I unloaded everything, cleaned it out, put some racks in and: BOOM! A pantry was born!
In this time, I also found the forgotten board games we had, like Scrabble and Monopoly. I put these in the Library and moved on.
That night, I found the entire box of Scrabble strewn in the boys’ room (courtesy of an adventurous 3 year old). I stood there, looking at all the tiles littered around the room and under beds, and was a little furious. I thought I had worked all day to get things better in the house, and this was just one more thing to clean up now.
I made the decision to approach this differently, though. Most of the time, if the kids make a mess, they clean up the mess. That’s just how the rules go around here. But with this one, I needed to take a different road: I told my 7 year old son that it was pretty disappointing to see my favorite game dismantled. But I need your help. If you get everything picked up, and all the tiles are put away, and everything is back in the box and downstairs where it belongs....I will make you a cake.
His eyes lit up and he planned how he would accomplish this task until he fell asleep. And before I even got up in the morning, the entire box of Scrabble was back where it belonged as if nothing had happened. You bet he got that cake! (and he shared with everybody, because he’s awesome)
A few nights after that, my 9 year old daughter was in tears over something very important to her: her 2 year old little sister was playing with her toys. AGAIN.
We had a pretty long talk about how to make a personal space for her things in their room, and sorting out exactly which toys were actually hers, which were actually her sisters, and which they were going to share.
What I really wanted her to understand, even more than sharing, was how to forgive her sister. We women can be tough as nails, and it takes a very good, persuasive argument to get us to honestly forgive. It is something I wrestle with in my own heart, and I am sure my daughter will have the same shoes to wear; so we need to understand this when it’s easy to explain.
I said, “Do you remember the other day, when I spent all day cleaning out the closet downstairs? And I turned it into a pantry? Now, I had things pretty cleaned up after that; but at night, I found my entire Scrabble board upstairs, and all the tiles had been thrown out. Now, do you think I was happy about that, or furious?”
Interestingly, she said, “....Happy?”
“No, I was furious. That is my favorite game, and I had just organized it and put it away. But did I yell at the boys?”
“What did I do?”
“After they had cleaned it up, you gave us all cake.”
“That is forgiveness. Even though it was frustrating, the boys asked for forgiveness, and cleaned it up (repented), and I absolutely forgave them. And I gave you all cake.”
That is love.
An excellent illustration of forgiveness is the story of Joseph in Egypt.
For those who haven’t been to Sunday School in a billion years, the summary is this: Joseph was the second youngest of 12 kids, all born to Jacob, also known as Israel (hence, the 12 tribes of Israel). He was a dreamer and he had amazing prophetic dreams, and he loved talking about how great they were. His brothers were sick of listening to their little brother, and they threw him in a pit in the middle of nowhere. They took the beautiful coat their father had given him in favor, and tore it and threw blood on it, and were going to tell their father Joseph was killed by a lion. While they were doing this, a caravan came along and the brothers sold Joseph to them as a slave, instead of letting him die in the pit.
After that, Joseph went to Egypt to work in the palace, gained great favor with the Pharaoh, and ultimately was put in control of operations. While he was gaining favor in Egypt, a great famine and drought came upon the land and the brothers (along with everyone else) were forced to go to Egypt to ask/beg for food for their families. Little did they know they were actually talking to their brother, Joseph.
You can imagine the terror they felt when they did find out though. Would he skin them alive? Would he make them all slaves? What would Joseph do to them and their families? And worse, what would happen to their father?
Everything went fine and Joseph made sure everyone was taken care of; but when their father finally died, the brothers were afraid that Joseph would unleash his wrath, once their father was not there to see it.
Genesis 50:15-18 “When Joseph's brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him.” So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, “Your father gave this command before he died: ‘Say to Joseph: “Please forgive the transgression of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you.”’ And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.”
Joseph wept when they spoke to him. ”
Joseph had forgiven the brothers a million times over, so when he heard that they begged for his forgiveness again, it was clear to him that his love had not gotten through as he had intended; and that is a deep grief. Joseph wept when they spoke to him, because he could see that his forgiveness was not understood at all. When you have said to a person, “No, really, it’s okay. I completely forgive you,” and they still live as if the wound is open, it is difficult on both sides, because true healing just hasn’t taken place.
Jesus talks about forgiveness many, many times, particularly in his prayer:
“and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” (Matthew 6:12)
“Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him,” (Luke 17:3)
and finally, when Jesus was suffering on the cross he even said “And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)
Forgiveness and love are very difficult for us to fully understand and comprehend. It is so easy to love those we already like, but it is almost a wrenching pain to love someone horrible. It is even harder to forgive them.
And may I just say, that it is absolutely not necessary to keep some people in your life, even if you have forgiven them. Some people are truly dangerous, and need to be kept away from you and your family. This is absolutely necessary for appropriate boundaries in your life. Abuse, malice and evil are not part of a healthy life, and you are never asked to allow them in your home. That is black and white clear, so don’t start wondering when you can invite that guy who used to beat you up all the time over for dinner. Forgive him....from a long, long distance.
Charles L. Griswold from NY Times had some things to reflect on this subject of forgiveness:
We are in a season traditionally devoted to good will among people and to the renewal of hope in the face of hard times. As we seek to realize these lofty ideals, one of our greatest challenges is overcoming bitterness and divisiveness. We all struggle with the wrongs others have done to us as well as those we have done to others, and we recoil at the vast extent of injury humankind seems determined to inflict on itself. How to keep hope alive? Without a constructive answer to toxic anger, addictive cycles of revenge, and immobilizing guilt, we seem doomed to despair about chances for renewal. One answer to this despair lies in forgiveness.
Griswold touches on the necessity of hope here, and how it foreshadows change in our hearts. Instead of living in pits of “toxic anger,” or “immobilizing guilt,” we seek the hope of peace through forgiveness. Not only for the situation, but also, if not mostly, for peace within ourselves.
Griswold finishes by saying:
Why forgive? What makes it the commendable thing to do at the appropriate time? It’s not simply a matter of lifting the burden of toxic resentment or of immobilizing guilt, however beneficial that may be ethically and psychologically. It is not a merely therapeutic matter, as though this were just about you. Rather, when the requisite conditions are met, forgiveness is what a good person would seek because it expresses fundamental moral ideals. These include ideals of spiritual growth and renewal; truth-telling; mutual respectful address; responsibility and respect; reconciliation and peace.
Sometimes love is hard, and it requires forgiveness.
But it's love...and love is good.
Next week: Wrong Love
Love30 01 13 00:51 by tamr
Proverbs 10:12 Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenseses.
For the past few years, I have been trying to give the new year a theme to focus on. It seemed easier for me to put a purpose on where we were going, what we would accomplish; I needed a theme to help me not just wander through the year in a fog.
The first year I did this the theme was "Write A Better Story," and I honestly had no idea how that was going to turn out. That was 2010, and I had just given birth to Eve that April; what were we going to do for the rest of the year?
Well, we spent that summer getting ready to go to China, and then we were in Beijing until the beginning of October. That was AMAZING, and it has changed how we view life ever since. That year we absolutely wrote a better story!
2011 was still building on those ideas, and I wanted to "Be Purposeful." I discovered I was pregnant again in May...and not only that, but I was already in my 2nd trimester! (it's a long story) That shifted the year significantly: no trip to New York, no working in the garden, no walking without excruciating pain (sciatica) until the baby was born, and Alice was right under the wire and was born a few days before Christmas. But the theme of "Be Purposeful" helped me focus on what I needed to do every day: my uterus sits pretty far back, so when I'm pregnant the baby sits right on top of the end of my spine and pinches the nerves throughout my pelvis. For those of us who have had sciatic nerve pain, we understand that there isn't a thing we can do to alleviate the pain. I've heard of people who went to the chiropractor, or tried pilates moves...but the honest truth is, we were busy and those weren't cures. Maybe if I went to the chiropractor once a week, I might get a couple hours' worth of a little relief; but the fact is, it was just going to come back and I really didn't have the time to devote to that many doctor's visits, on top of the prenatal visits and endless lab tests I was already committed to, besides the upkeep of the house, spending time with 2 kids and 2 toddlers, keeping on track with homeschool and making sure we were progressing solidly there, and spending time with Ben. I'm sure I might have had a few hours after a chiropractor's visit where the pain wasn't as bad, but I did not have the extended patience to devote to the false hope that it would do any good in the long run. The pain wasn't a detrimental pain, it was just stupid pain: it was pain for the purpose of being painful. I could wait until birth, just like I had in the previous pregnancies, and then it would be over.
This all being said, being purposeful everyday was a very deliberate exercise for me. I had to budget how much I could get done, and prioritize what was most important. Although doing the dishes wasn't as important as spending good, quality time with the kids and Ben, the fact is they did have to get done eventually. Fortunately, I came up with compromises to help me keep up with the endless meals we have in our kitchen, so we used paper plates/bowls for breakfast and lunch and our plates for dinner. This eventually progressed to getting the kids their own plate and bowl, and they are washed after breakfast/lunch and put on the counter. This hasn't solved every problem in the kitchen (most of which I am ignoring right now while I write this, truth be told!), but it made a significant improvement on my ability to manage the work; which is most of the battle, really.
In 2012 I wanted to "See The Bigger Picture," particularly for the kids. I didn't want them to live completely sheltered from what is happening in the world, but I also wanted to keep it age-appropriate for them. I created a chore tower for them, so they take care of the chickens and vacuuming in the morning and they get $.50 for each chore, so that comes out to $2 a day. Each day they get to mark on the tower when they have completed their chores, and at the top of the tower (50 days), they get a gold star and they get to use the money they earned to buy a goat and two chickens for a village through World Vision. I wanted to start to implement the seeds of serving others who are less fortunate through our own lives, and although this is a small seed, I anticipate that it will grow into a larger, sturdier plant as they also grow older.
Now, this year I wanted to step it up a little bit and really develop some good heart-roots for us, so our theme this year is "Love."
This is extremely difficult to focus on, because it could go in a million directions: do we love ourselves more? Do we love others more? Do we love them through words or through actions? Do we donate our time through love, or serve in retirement homes? Do we send more cards, do we make homemade gifts for every birthday, do we forgive every debt?
How, exactly, do we love?
Homestead and YellowCake
Ben has been a SysAdmin for as long as I've known him, even before he was ever hired to be one, and it is quite fitting that he is now the Director of Systems. It is just his mentality to find the system of an idea and break it apart, rebuild it, break it apart again, rebuild it with new parts, break it apart, etc, etc, etc. He has done this same deconstruction with philosophy, theology, technology and the garage. It is just in his nature to understand, and he will spend 18 hours a day, every day, in order to attain this understanding.
However, sometimes work gets in the way and he will spend hours/days inside server rooms breaking things down and building them up again. This was very difficult for me, as a young wife, because he was gone for long stretches at a time, and I not only didn't have a social support system on which to rely, but it also didn't occur to me to find a social support system at the time. So I spent the evenings in yahoo chat rooms talking to friends in Australia or reading books; sometimes folding laundry.
For any wife (or husband) who has a husband (or wife) in this industry, or in the medical field, or is a fire fighter, or a police officer....you know how quiet the days and nights are when they are gone. The quiet is almost tangible after the sun goes down, and you keep the news on just to hear someone talking. But even though it's hard for me, I knew it was just as hard for Ben who was also under deadlines and pressure and insane managers pushing insane projects (personal opinion here).
There was one week when Ben was scheduled for server outages for an entire week, and the company he worked for at the time even set up a hotel room nearby so the guys could sleep there after 25 hour days working, and get up to work again after a few downtime hours. It was absolutely nuts for everybody, and there was nothing I could do to help but stay home. And that, in itself, was infuriating.
Since this was the umpteenth time Ben had gone through these week-long server room workloads, I had to do something different this time. I couldn't be angry at me, I couldn't be angry at Ben's company, I couldn't be frustrated with the amount of time I had to myself. I had to change my perspective or I was going to go absolutely bonkers.
So that night, I baked Ben a gigantic yellow cake and put his favorite frosting on it. I cooked some hearty, beef and potatoes meal and stocked up on Guinness. When he came home at 11:30 that night, he had his favorite meal ready for him, and I was happy that I could do something to help him, finally.
This changed everything.
Solomon was absolutely correct that "Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses."
Ever since then, I have made it my perspective to cover everything in love and avoid adding hate into moments of strife. And don't think this is easy at all...we are a passionate family full of passionate individuals filled with a million opinions on a billion topics. I am known to yell emphatically at the tv during every presidential debate (because we watch every debate....). But when it comes to an individual person, I need to cover them with love: and love on their terms. The way I am loved is absolutely, completely different than the way my son, Glenn is loved, or the way Ben is loved, or the way my friends are all loved. And this is the fine tuning of love which makes the act of love so special.
So, how, exactly, do we love? As unconditionally and as personally as humanly possible.
Nova and toys: Glenn and Cake
Last Day of School!31 05 12 21:38 by tamr
Ben may or may not attest to this.
But I did write "Last Day of School" on the calendar, and Nova noticed that it was TODAY. They were pretty excited that they didn't have to do spelling at 9, as is our routine, and promptly got into their bathing suits and headed outside into our inflatable pool. Thank goodness for SPF 50+ sunscreens, because it's the afternoon and they are STILL in there. I will say, Conrad and Eve went down for a nap pretty easily after 4 hours of pool time and lunch :)
Between you and me, I will miss doing school. I truly enjoy finding new things to discover and different ways to learn math. This morning I gave the kids bananas with whipped cream for breakfast, and the bananas were a little squishy. Nova said, "I have a hypothesis to why they are squishy!" I assure you, my heart sang after hearing these words.
Yet, in the same way that it is essential for the kids to have a break, it is equally as important for me to get into a different creative gear. I am loving watching the kids come up with all their different games outside, figuring out how to turn into turtles, how to get the bugs and grass out of the pool, how to form alliances, etc. I love watching the act of play, and I am so enormously grateful we are raising our kids to know how to do this on their own; without structured organization, or categorizations of time. Just random child's play using their imaginations, and oftentimes a stick. I have no qualms against video games, since we are a bit of a gaming family; but it just seems like there is a crucial mineral children recover outside when they find adventures in their backyards.
I, on the other hand, have been holed up behind my cluttered desk sipping water and coffee and exploring a list of crafting projects I didn't have time for during the school year. For instance, I would love a 50s dress...but ModCloth is just a little too pricey for me. So I got some old maternity dresses I made last summer and tore them apart, and I'm building a new dress. It is going to be EPIC. With RUFFLES.
I also have wanted to try my hand at quilling for a long time, but never had a reason. So the other day at Michael's, I bought a pack of groovy scrapbooking paper and printed maps of places we have been onto tissue paper. I put the maps on the groovy paper, and I have them hanging on the wall next to the stairs...and I'm making little quilling flowers to go around the maps for decoration. It's SO MUCH FUN, and I am so glad I have a vacation during which to do this!
And although I will miss the progress of school, I would hate to look back on a summer of opportunity and realize that I spent the whole summer doing school or work, when I so easily had the ability to do something else that I no longer had time for. I think this is the most important part of summer vacation for teachers: really, take a break. Go explore something, and come back to school in a month or two with invigorated energy, and self-fulfillment on your side.
The Rope Bridge of Homeschooling26 05 12 16:53 by tamr
The funny thing, at least for me, is that I have been reading "The Element" and "Out of Our Minds" by Sir Ken Robinson for a while now, and they are both just absolutely the most riveting books to read. The thing is, this is my element: learning. I love to learn and I love to pass on the learning through education and writing.
I remember exactly when I realized what I wanted to do this for the rest of my life when my family was camping one summer. Our dad was sitting on the back of his truck, and we had gotten distracted from unloading it and ended up listening to him tell us about WWI leading up to WWII. It was just absolutely fascinating stuff to me, and that is when I discovered that I wanted to know everything. Not in a "powerful Wizard of Oz" way, because I can assure you that I will never understand electricity the way Ben and Glenn do. But I just wanted to keep discovering until I could find nothing left to discover. That's why I read so much, this is why we explore crazy places, this is why our trip to Beijing was the most incredible experience: there was SO much to discover and learn. My degree in Literature enabled me to learn about societies, from the point of view of the people, which barely reach the surface of understanding today. Okay, I'm going off on a tangent here...
So when Robinson was describing how this one dancer, Gillian, came into her element when she entered a dancing school and saw every other girl there who couldn't keep still and had to keep moving in order to maintain themselves, I completely understood. This is how I feel every time I read about another learning system, or a new curriculum, or I discuss styles with other educators. I LOVE education. It is just the most fascinatingly amazing thing in the world to me. I could talk about the strategies of Aristotle, of Waldorf, of the theories of Classical vs. Traditional vs. Modern Thinking...I find them all just amazing.
Recently I have been up to my ears trying to fully understand The Blue School, which is rather difficult since it is in New York and I am out here in CA.
There are a number of obstacles with understanding The Blue School though: foremost, I think, is that the people running it are from Harvard and Ivy League universities. My degree is from a podunk state university. Now, while this isn't the end of the world, I will say that the mentality of Harvard is quite different (yes, I realize this is kind of an understatement, but stay with me). The people who graduate from my university talk about going on to teaching, going into the Peace Corps., going into small businesses, etc. We're thinking workers.
However, in higher universities, such as Harvard, it is typical to instill the thought of making the world a better place by giving. Give your money if you are rich (see: Bill Gates), give your gifts if you have gifts (see: FDR and his ability to instill hope during the Depression). You can see a list of Harvard graduates here and get an idea as to what these people hoped to get out of life: giving something to the world to make it a better place. This is seriously overgeneralizing the point I am trying to make, so just keep reading; I don't want to go down a rabbit trail of what every graduate from Ivy League schools have or have not accomplished. I just wanted to point out that the mentality is "society" instead of "individuals." They leave with a bigger picture of how the world is run, and how they can participate in running it; as opposed to my position, which is happily "individual."
So with that said, The Blue School is the crux of Modern Education.
Just a quick perspective on why this is interesting: Classical Education (at least from an American point of view) ranges from Colonialism-1810. You learned Latin, Greek, Literature, Math...but specifically it has a system of Trivium where there is the level of Grammar, Dialectic and Rhetoric (basically, Elementary school, Jr. High and High school). Then there is Traditional Education, which is essentially the one-room schoolhouse idea; but the lessons start moving away from Classical education in Latin, and more towards applicable subjects. Finally, around 1910 came Modern Education, and this was much more pragmatic in structure. Kids needed a more pragmatic education in order to learn how to be functional citizens post-Industrial Revolution, and education helped this idea along. This makes sense to me. If a student is schooled in Latin and Literature, how will they be able to work in a factory when they graduate? Not very well. So Modern Education supplemented where Classical and Traditional Education left gaping holes.
The thing about today, though, is that there aren't many factories to participate in anymore (unless you count public education, which is a valid argument, I think). So we're back to educating for ideas. This is where The Blue School comes in. They want their students to really explore their minds through education, through art, through creativity, and come out the other side with a bigger idea of the world than any textbook could offer them. But it is thickly Modern Education: society over individual, creativity over Latin, self-expression over "the right answer." Kind of. Big sweeping generalities here.
So, I just finished a 3 day event in a Classical Education forum, and it was pretty awesome but completely different from The Blue School. The direction they want to take the kids is fantastic, the bar is really high and the kids are collaborating in a group to achieve academic goals...while still homeschooling. It is FAN-TASTIC. I love it. But there is a lot of Kool-Aid to drink.
I am not a Kool-Aid drinker. Even when I lead Kool-Aid groups, or am a member of Kool-Aid communities, I just swirl it around in the glass the whole time. I just can't jump in that far...because it's ridiculous. I think Classical Education is great, no two ways about it. I am looking forward to teaching my kids both pragmatic and Classical education, so they have a good balance between thinking and doing. But do I think Dewey killed education, and we should go back 300 years in educational learning?
No. This is the dumbest thing I've heard....well, the second dumbest thing I've heard so far. The absolute dumbest thing was that our daughters don't need higher education because they were designed to be helpers, and only our sons really needed the higher education because they would actually be working.
No, I didn't laugh my way out of the auditorium. But I took a big huge note never to interact with that woman's group ever again. wow.
Ok, so this whole "300 years ago was so much better!"idea is just absurd. 300 years ago, I wouldn't be able to teach anything. Heck, even 100 years ago women weren't allowed in University libraries unchaperoned. 300 years ago we were still trying to figure out how to start a nation and farm the land. 300 years ago we didn't have the internet, we didn't have cars, we didn't have telephones, we didn't have freaking pavement on the streets. So teaching our kids now in the same way kids were taught 300 years ago is a good idea? Really?
But what about the Blue School idea? Do I really buy into the extreme education of self-pacing/student-directed education? Ehh, not so much. A little, but not so much. On one hand, students really do get to pick what they learn, and the instructors help augment the lessons to hit every subject. I love this idea, and we're doing this now actually. We had a huge unit on The Universe, and it included constellations, biographies, writing about what we've discovered, etc, etc. But it is applicable on a very, very small scale. Just for an example: the Khan Academy, which is also totally awesome, had a little experiment in Oakland. 6th graders were given self-directed math lessons for a few months, and the instructors checked the results afterward. The kids did SIGNIFICANTLY worse when they were self-taught...because they didn't care. In the public school system, students are motivated to get through the tests. "Will this be on the test?" if not, then who cares. And that's what Khan discovered: if kids didn't need to be tested on something, their motivation to learn was gone. So they just breezed through the math and retained none of it.
Now, this is a systematic problem and not an academic problem. The problem is in the culture of the school, which is why The Blue School started with pre-school kids and moved up from there, as opposed to starting with Jr. High kids and tried to re-engineer learning then. It just wouldn't work.
But for us homeschoolers, how about we realize that we are in the middle of a societal revolution, and start teaching accordingly. There needs to be a balance between technology and textbooks, between individualism and society, between Latin and learning German, between academics and pragmatism. We need to learn from the masters, and see what is and isn't working in Modern and Classical forums, and pass on these lessons to our own kids.
Less Kool-Aid, more re-discovering hydration in general.
Setting Boundaries as a Christian02 05 12 17:59 by tamr
Some of us are CLEARLY better at this than others: Mother Theresa was obviously a master at this. Mother Angelica (link, if you've never heard of her) is pretty spot on with how to treat people. Fred Rogers will always be known as one of the nicest men to ever have lived. So, these are some examples off the top of my head who we can look to as loving people; but on a day to day basis, sometimes we can encounter situations that go against the grain of "nice." It would be naive to think we will never encounter someone who has a large dose of entitlement and requires enormous amounts of time/energy/financial support/emotional support. So, without breaking you personally, how do you handle people who cross boundaries in your life and still uphold Christ's calling to love?
I found this blog, and it really broke things down better than I could ever put it:
BRETT'S BLOG: OUT OF BOUNDS: DEALING WITH PEOPLE WHO BREAK BOUNDARIES
Most people have a sense of what is and isnâ€™t appropriate when it comes to respecting boundaries. However, we are bound to find individuals who donâ€™t. These people are abusiveâ€¦and if we donâ€™t deal with them properly, they will continue to break boundaries time and time again.
As much as we strive for healthy relationships, we inevitably encounter individuals who are bullies, toxic or just plain manipulative. Some of these people KNOW what they are doing, but often, most â€śjust donâ€™t get it:â€ť They have little-to-no self-awareness and feel that they are fully entitled or appropriate in their behavior. And whatâ€™s worse is that they frequently get away with it because others donâ€™t stand up to them. This enables boundary breakers and convinces them that their behavior is acceptable. Hereâ€™s a news flash: It ISNâ€™T.
The best thing you can do is firmly establish boundaries. Youâ€™ll feel better about yourself and your relationship. Further, you wonâ€™t have to succumb to their inappropriate behavior over and over again:
Know Who You Are Dealing with: The first step in this process is to identify those individuals who donâ€™t respect your boundaries. Doing so will keep you on the look-out for times that boundaries need to be reinforced or put into place.
Tune-in: Start paying attention to how these people typically break boundaries. Some questions to ask: Are they pushy? Do they ask questions you feel uncomfortable answering? Do they discuss things with you that are inappropriate? Do they disregard your wishes or needs? Do they always prioritize their needs before yours?
Trust Your Gut: If you arenâ€™t sure as to whether or not a boundary is being broken, stop thinking and start feeling. Does something feel awkward, uncomfortable or wrong? Can you feel an adrenaline rush, but arenâ€™t sure why? Do you feel nauseous during the discussion? At times, our guts have better listening skills than our ears. If you can feel a visceral reaction to the conversation at hand, you can be pretty sure that something isnâ€™t right.
Think First, Speak Second: Once you realize boundaries are being broken, think about how you want to react. Reacting without thinking through your position and what you want as an outcome can lead to an unresolved situation, potential â€śroom for discussionâ€ť or more broken boundaries down the line.
State Your Position: Tell the person who is breaking a boundary that they are indeed breaking a boundary. Sugar-coating itâ€¦hemming and hawingâ€¦playing niceâ€¦politely saying noâ€¦often doesnâ€™t work with people who perpetually break boundaries. Unfortunately, many of these boundary breakers donâ€™t have a clue as to the fact that they are crossing a line. The more obvious you can be, the better.
Donâ€™t Back Down: If the person continues to push you on a topic, tell them the topic â€śisnâ€™t up for discussion.â€ť The more you stand your ground, the less likely the person will continue to try to push you on things in the future. No means no. Inappropriate is inappropriate. And, boundaries are boundaries.
The more you set boundaries, the easier it will get. Do you have boundary breakers in your life? How do you handle the situation?
This is a great list to go over, especially in the thick of conflict. I come from a long line of helpers, and we all have trouble putting boundaries around what we deem as "acceptable assistance." How much to we give? A little? A lot? Everything? Should we invite these individuals over all the time; can they drop in uninvited at their whim; if they are always 4 hours late, can we tell them that they are completely wasting our time and energy having to continually wait for them to show up? Where is the line we draw? If they ask for money because they have none for their children, do we give them $50, or do we give them thousands of dollars? (yes, really). How many times do we watch their kids? How many times do we move their house? How many times do we bail them out? Are we obligated to listen to their cyclical troubles, their constant complaints, their emotional roller coasters? "Seventy times seven," or can we allow ourselves to put boundaries on relationships?
Don Miller had a great blog post on this topic last month: "One of the best pieces of advice Iâ€™ve received was given to me by my friend Ben. We were taking a break from a writing project, sitting out on my deck when I brought up some trouble I was having with a friend. Iâ€™d grown a little tired of this friend using me and I was losing trust.
Ben said something Iâ€™d never forget, he said You know, Don, there are givers and takers in this life, I got rid of the takers years ago and Iâ€™ve had it for the better. Iâ€™d recommend you do the same. To be sure, this was reductionistic but Ben was making a general point. The point is this: Some people arenâ€™t trustworthy. Heâ€™s right. And if we donâ€™t believe that, I think weâ€™re being naive.
I took Benâ€™s advice. I let the friend go and Iâ€™ve hardly talked to him since. I simply lost trust in him. There were too many lies, too many victim speeches, too much manipulation. Itâ€™s remarkable to me how some people canâ€™t learn and canâ€™t change. Heâ€™d had a track record of building communities only to hurt people, play the victim and then walk away and build another.
In early Christian communities, God Himself rid the community of liars and manipulators. Honesty and transparency in community are incredibly important. These days I have a filter against the kinds of people Iâ€™ll be close to. Here are three kinds of people I keep at a distance:
False Victims: If somebody identifies as a victim (even a strong pessimistic attitude toward life) I keep my distance. Sooner or later people who identify as a victim are going to paint you as an oppressor. Victims need to be victims of somebody, and you can count on it that that somebody is going to be you eventually. Believe it or not there are people who want to be victims because if they are victims they donâ€™t have to take responsibility for their lives and they think they will attract help or a rescuer. Certainly you may wrong a friend, we all do, but you want friends who will talk openly and honestly about what youâ€™ve done and make amends, not flop on the floor like a European soccer player. If somebody is overly victim-like, be careful.
Bullies: The quickest way to identify a bully is to notice what a person laughs at. Bullies do not laugh at themselves, they laugh at others. If somebody makes fun of others but isnâ€™t self deprecating, theyâ€™re a taker and not a giver. Ever heard a loud-mouth political talk-show host make a self-deprecating joke? Most likely not. Bullies make great radio-show hosts, for sure. I keep my distance from people who canâ€™t laugh at themselves and have zero friends who arenâ€™t objective about themselves and others. Thereâ€™s an entire Pandoraâ€™s box that goes along with this personality and Iâ€™m not interested. If you have friends who are bullies, it may be because they â€śprotectâ€ť you in some way. Iâ€™d keep my distance all the same. Bullies protect others on the condition that others submit. Thatâ€™s an unhealthy relationship. Get some strength and learn to protect yourself. You donâ€™t need them to do that for you.
Overly Religious: I love people who have a sincere, open and honest faith. These are some of my favorite people. But when a person starts proof-texting using Bible verses about why theyâ€™re right and somebody else is wrong (even if itâ€™s true) and Iâ€™ll keep my distance. This goes along with bullying, to be honest. Itâ€™s all about controlling others. When somebodyâ€™s faith helps them realize their own depravity and walk in honesty, I want them close, but when somebody uses religion to gain authority, Iâ€™m out.
All of this may sound calloused, but as we get older, we realize there are people in the world who refuse to mature. Maturity means we are honest, safe and transparent. A mature person understands their faults and admits to them. An immature person is looking for power in some kind of game.
If you want to be mature, surround yourself by mature people.
Every relationship, good or bad, leads to greater learning and understanding of yourself. How do you interact with others? How do you interact with yourself? How is your relationship with God? Are you manipulative with Him, or do you have conversations with Him? How can your relationships with others help you grow in your relationship with your husband/wife, kids, Jesus?
All this is food for thought, in the end, and some bits are tougher to digest than others. I am definitely still learning when to put up boundaries with people; but I am also learning how to more fully appreciate the healthy relationships I do have.
The Rabbit Trails That Bounce Away26 04 12 01:00 by tamr
The question was along the lines of, "Am I expecting to much by wanting my wife to keep an orderly house?"
"This is going to be a really touchy subject. I battled with this for a long time (as a wife), and there isn't really a clear way to handle it. The thing is, at least for me, I had always worked before kids. I always went to college and worked and had this great purpose in life. And now my only job is laundry and dishes, and in my mind, none of it mattered. No one asks about projects I did anymore, no one talked to me about my purpose in life. Things just got really meaningless and depressing, and I just gave up after a while.
On one hand, you are absolutely correct with your position. You aren't asking too much, and she should have the house together.
But on the other hand, she's probably feeling extremely belittled with what she does all day. The things I did before I stayed home were real estate, art galleries, literature and poetry. And now I am in charge of mopping, which you can pay someone else to do. It's a huge step down on the social ladder, and you really feel it. EVEN THOUGH I wanted nothing more than to stay home and raise our kids...no one cares what you have to say anymore, because you're just a housewife. So, you just start giving up, and it reflects on your duties in the house...
The big change for me, which won't help you at all, was when I started homeschooling. It gave me a creative outlet and a greater purpose during the day, and I could take pride in talking about what I did for a living again. If you can restore this aspect in your wife, you will build her up and she will be able to work happily in what she does.
If you want something a little more pragmatic, try looking into flylady.com. She is annoyingly organized, but her simple task of "Shine your sink" helped me get a handle on cleaning the kitchen and not getting overwhelmed with the enormity of the dishes.
Also, help her break the situation down into edible bits. "Cleaning the house" is very different than "picking up the toys in the bathtub." There were many times I would just cry from being overwhelmed with the house, because where on earth do you start (fyi, you cannot answer that...just a head's up :) ). Just start with something small. Tidy the kids bathroom. Then that's done. Now just put the clothes in the kids room away. Just one thing at a time. Because the way her mind works, she's not only thinking about the clothes she's picking up, but do they fit still? Do you need to get new clothes by now? Do you need a better dresser to organize them? That reminds me, we have the clothes in the closet that haven't been hung up in a month, but we need more hangers. I need to go to Target and get more hangers. And while I'm at Target I need bananas, and we're out of bread, and I don't know what we're having for dinner tonight, but I'm not in the mood to cook, maybe I'll get something frozen.....
Women's minds are a million rabbit trails. If you can help her focus on just ONE thing without getting overwhelmed with a million things, or the future of the house, or her purpose in life in the universe...you're on a good track.
I hope this helps a little."
How Philosophy Class Messed Me Up.09 03 12 01:55 by tamr
It can royally mess with your head. Because before you walk in to the class, you think: things are good. Pretty static. When you fall, you call down, not sideways. Life's good!
And then you learn about Philosophy, and your head explodes. Anything that is a fact is actually something that someone created/imagined up, and the details of the fact could change at any moment. You may turn green. It's possible!!
Ugh. Anyway, so philosophy is hard for some of us to handle. Ben reads philosophy like a duck on water: they just belong together. I take to philosophy like a labrador on lsd. It's not pretty, and people get hurt.
Fortunately, I healed after a while and I forgot about the big parts of the class upon which I wigged out. There was one example, though, which the professor was trying to get us to think bigger...and it just messed me up. It's not a big thing, so hold on:
He dropped the eraser once. And it fell. He picked it up and dropped it again. And it fell again. He picked it up and asked us if it would fall again? The answer was no.
Why was it no? It was no because it didn't have to fall. It wasn't destined to fall. Gravity caused it to fall...and that was a causation principle...but it didn't "have to" fall.
That messed me up for purely independent reasons. I was dealing with partial simple epilepsy seizures at the time, and I hadn't yet been diagnosed. I didn't even know at the time that they *were* seizures; I just knew that sometimes my mind went **poof** like dandelion seeds. So this idea that reality doesn't "have to" be constant was terrifying. After I got control over the seizures, the fear that bridges would suddenly disappear under me subsided. (whew...it wasn't that bad, it was just weird. For the record.)
However, the idea that reality could change always stuck with me. I don't have to be here. I could be somewhere else. I don't have to vote Republican. I could not vote at all. I don't have to watch TV, I don't have to listen to the radio, I don't have to read popular literature, I don't have to go to dive bars, I don't have to buy into the system.....I don't have to do anything.
Which is an interesting concept, if you think about it: I don't have to do anything.
So, if you start living with this idea, that you don't have to do anything, where do you start doing something? What motivates you do do something at all? Things, actions, relationships become much more deliberate with this force behind you. I don't have to listen to junk. I can listen to interesting things and people. I don't have to read drivel. I can read mind inspiring ideas. I don't have to go to groups. I can participate in intimate relationships with individuals, instead.
I can homeschool my kids, instead of having to send them to a school with which I don't agree. I can have a solid relationship with my husband, instead of relying on other people to fulfill my emotional needs. I can raise chickens in the city, instead of believing that I can't.
I remember when I was preparing to go to Beijing with Ben and the fam, there was a woman I was talking with at a fountain while our kids played in the water. She was nervous about moving somewhere, and it came up that we were on our way to Beijing soon. I will never forget what she said: "You can't do that. You can't go to China with your kids. You can't go!"
I can :) I can go, we can take our kids, and we can build a new future for our family. And not only did we, but we LOVED it. It was by far one of the most amazing things we have ever done!
Reality isn't fixed. We can change our situations, we can raise our kids better, we can have loving relationships with our spouses, we can support our huge family on one income, we can travel long distances with little kids, we can grow our own food, we can teach our own kids....we can be successful in life. And anyone who says differently isn't looking through the windows of opportunity life has built into the walls which frame our lives.
I am telling you, you can. And it has probably been done before...so it can't be that hard!